//December 5th, Sunday evening. We leave for Chicago
in the morning; dad is at home as of last night, and my sister will let us know
if he gets worse. Packing has been a nightmare—Peggy’s good at it, so I just
follow her lead, trying to help, but Erin and Hawkeye are mostly good at getting
in the way. They’re both excited (even over-excited) about this trip, and now
Erin’s warmed to Hawkeye a little it’s as bad as having two children in the
Back in Korea, I used to daydream about being home,
and one of the things my daydreams tended to include was Peggy and me having
another kid. Now, I think we don’t need one. We’ve got Hawkeye instead,
which is at worst the same and at best a lot more fun.
He’s in the next room now, reading a bedtime story to
Erin, while I write and Peggy puts the finishing touches to the
packing—checking her list one last time. You know, I never realised how thin
these walls are. I can hear almost every word Hawkeye says.
There’s a lesson there, about making sure that Erin
doesn’t hear what we get up to, I’m sure.
I wonder if Peggy listened, the first night Hawkeye and
I were together here? She said she’d put the radio on, but I don’t remember
hearing it. Not that it means a lot—I wasn’t exactly concentrating on
He’s finished the story—something involving Tigger
looking for his breakfast. “Goodnight, Hawkeye,” Erin says. He’ll come in
here next. Time to stop writing. One last night in our bed at home—I don’t
want to waste the time!//
* * *
At first, travelling was soothing. Erin was excited, but
with three adults in the car, it wasn’t a stress to keep her playing silly
games. I-Spy wore out after six or eight rounds, so they moved on to ‘The
“You go round, and each person says, “The Vicar’s Cat
is…” something beginning with the next letter of the alphabet. Ideally, an
adjective,” Hawkeye explained.
“Where on earth did you learn that?”
“Oh, we used to play a version at medical school, in the
very boring shifts. Not quite like this, but the idea’s the same.” He tried
not to think about the man he’d played with—in oh so many senses—back
then. Thinking about Trapper wouldn’t help at all.
Peggy could guess, and didn’t enquire further.
“Okay—so if I’m starting, I say, ‘The Vicar’s Cat is active,’ or
something like that.”
“That’s right. The Vicar’s Cat is blue.”
“Erin, are you playing?”
“Yes! C? The Vicar’s Cat is… is… catty.”
Hawkeye laughed. “Yes. BJ?”
“The Vicar’s Cat is dirty.”
“Nah, it’s only dirty if you…” Peggy turned round
to glare at Hawkeye, who closed his mouth.
“The Vicar’s Cat is edible.”
“You can’t eat cats!” Erin cried.
It occurred to both Hawkeye and BJ that they’d probably
eaten cat at some point, out in Korea, but, independently, they decided not to
“It’s only a game, Erin. The Vicar’s Cat is
They played on—when one game was boring, too hard, too
easy or just too long, they thought of another, or returned to an old one.
Eventually, though, trouble had to strike.
“I feel sick,” Erin said.
“Oh?” Hawkeye checked her forehead. “It’s probably
just movement sickness. Try looking out of the window.”
She tried. “It doesn’t help.”
“Are you really going to be sick?” Peggy asked.
“I think she is,” Hawkeye added. BJ stopped the
car—just in time, as it turned out.
Erin scrambled out onto the scrubby ground at the side of
the road, quickly followed by Hawkeye, and threw up. BJ and Peggy got out, but
there wasn’t anything they could do to help.
Holding Erin as she vomited, Hawkeye remembered the first
time he’d done this for a Hunnicutt, the first day BJ spent in Korea, the
first day after Trapper had left.
It didn’t take that long; Erin was one of those children
who could throw up and be ready to go again straight away. Soon enough, Peggy
took her turn at the wheel, and they went on.
* * *
//Monday night. We’re in a motel, watching the
snowflakes drift down. I hope it’s only the little snow storm the forecast
promised, and not the full-blown thing we might expect. Otherwise, we could be
stuck here for a day or two, if the weather isn’t safe to drive in.
That, I am not looking forward to.
I am looking forward to the reunion, though; and more
immediately, to spending the night with Peggy and Hawkeye—Erin’s asleep
already; poor girl, she had motion sickness this afternoon. Probably not helped
by eating too much lunch.
Tuesday morning. The snow’s melting quickly with the
sun, so we’re going on. Thank heaven for that!//
* * *
On Tuesday night, they couldn’t find a place to stop, so
they changed drivers—BJ’s turn again—and kept going.
Driving through the night, they found, was an ideal time
for talking. With the noise of the engine, Erin could sleep and they could talk,
and while they kept it mild, it was still a very comfortable time, when there
was room for deep thoughts, and time to express them.
Mostly, though, they hovered on the edge, meaningful but
still playful, more about keeping each other company and the driver—BJ—awake
than about debating life.
“Hawkeye?” BJ asked, when the conversation had flagged
a little. Hawkeye shifted in the passenger seat.
“Yeah?” he said, trying to look at BJ and not out the
window into the darkness. It wasn’t light in the car, but there was a sense
that the darkness inside was contained, and had Peggy and BJ in it. It wasn’t
dangerous, or trying to pull him in, the way the stuff outside was.
Outside was the darkness that hurt.
“Why /do/ you call me Beej?”
“It sounded right the first time I said it, and then it
“But why not stick to BJ?”
“You call me Hawk.”
“I don’t see what that has to do with anything.”
“I don’t see why you’re worrying what /I/ call you.
Your mother calls you ‘honeybun’, for heaven’s sake.”
“Your father calls you ‘Hawkeye’. We’re quits on
the silly names front.”
“It’s a literary reference,” said Hawkeye,
“And it could be worse,” Peggy put in from the back
seat. “There are other names in the book.”
“There are,” Hawkeye agreed.
“Did you have anything specific in mind?”
“He could be a Duncan or a David,” she told her
“Or,” Hawkeye grinned, “I could be an Alice or a
“Or ‘La Longue Carabine’,” Peggy said, and though
they couldn’t see it, they could tell she was smiling in that way that meant
there was fun to be had.
Hawkeye, knowing what the nickname meant and seeing at once
her meaning, took it as the
compliment it was meant to be, but BJ was thoroughly confused. “What?”
“You’ve never read The Last of the Mohicans, have you,
“No, I haven’t.”
“So much for pretending to be well read.”
“Let me guess, that’s where all these names are
Peggy leaned forward and whispered in BJ’s ear, “‘La
Longue Carabine’ means ‘The long rifle’. It’s the book-Hawkeye’s
nickname, but I’m sure you see how else it could be applied.”
Hawkeye only half-heard this comment, but when BJ laughed
he could guess its content.
“Yes, dear,” BJ said, “I see where you’re going
with that. I think maybe we should save this line of thinking for when we’ve
got a little more time to explore it properly.”
“If you say so, Chingachgook,” Hawkeye said, smirking.
* * *
We’ve driven all night, me and Peggy taking turns at the wheel, sleeping in
the back seat in between times. This is just a quick rest stop, and then we’ll
press on again. //
* * *
“I’m nearly asleep
here,” BJ admitted about four o’clock that afternoon. “Peg, can you take
“We’re only ten
minutes or so from a little town. It’s time to stop.”
Sitting in the passenger
seat, Hawkeye wondered briefly why they didn’t ask him to drive, but decided
it wasn’t important.
“Left here, then the
first right. Then there should be a motel on our left.”
* * *
//Wednesday evening. I
fear things aren’t going well for Hawkeye, despite our best efforts. He’d
been quiet, almost silent all day—which in itself was odd—and then, at
dinner tonight… well, I should tell it in order.
Erin was being silly,
as she so often is, playing with her food and demanding attention. “Look,
Hawkeye, I’m a rabbit,”—holding up two fries to be long ears.
either say, “Aren’t you going to eat those?” (frankly, the better option,
as far as Peggy and I are concerned—less trouble that way), or grin and do
something even sillier (thus adding fuel to the ‘we practically have two
children already’ argument).
But not tonight.
Instead, he said (nearly shouted, really), “Oh, for heaven’s sake, Erin!
Stop being stupid!”
Naturally enough, Erin
was upset. She started to cry, and Hawkeye got up and walked out—trying to
stop himself making it worse, I think. I hope. I started to look after Erin, but
Peggy said, “I’ll take her. Go and find out what’s wrong with him.”
He’d headed for the bedroom, and was lying, curled up,
on the double bed. His hands were in front of his face—not pressed up against
it, but just lying on the pillow, so that he was looking at the cuts on his
wrist. I was glad to note they are healing, slowly.
“Hawkeye?” No answer. When Hawkeye won’t talk,
I’ve learned, it’s time to worry.
I sat down beside him and laid a hand on his shoulder.
“Hawkeye, it’s okay.” He tried to pull away from me, huddling down into
the mattress. “You can relax. It’s okay—I love you, and we’ll get
through this. It’s okay.”
He shook his head, just a little, denying it, and
started to move away again. I rested one hand on his back, and let the other
make its way over his shoulder, up his neck, to smooth his dark hair and lie on
his forehead a moment, effectively keeping him still.
“We will. I’m promising you, this will get
better.” When did I become so confident? I don’t know. Some of it is just
the things I’m trained to say, what I’d say to a patient or their family.
‘I’m confident’. ‘You’ll make it.’ Mostly, they trust you, and
it’s true. “Hawkeye, talk to me. Or if you can’t do that, then let me stay
here until you can.”
away,” he said, his voice low.
“At least you’re talking to me.”
“I mean it. Go away.”
“I don’t think I want to. Those cuts you’re
looking at? They happened when I left you alone, didn’t they?”
“They weren’t your fault.” Said sullenly, that
didn’t sound nearly as reassuring as it looks written down.
“No. But if it happens again, it will be. So I’m
“I just explained. I don’t want you to hurt
“Because, Hawkeye Pierce, I love you.”
He didn’t reply—time to change the subject. “You
want to tell me why you’re in such a foul mood today?”
“Then I’m going to guess. After the several hundred games of I-Spy I’ve played in the
last few days, I’m getting quite good at a guessing. I think that you’re
tired, because we all are; I think you’re nervous about the reunion, and about
the wedding; I think you’re worrying, and stressing over what’s going to
happen, and wondering what people are going to think of the fact that you
aren’t back at work yet, as well as what they’ll say if they find out you
slashed your wrists.
“I think you’ve worried so much in the last day or
two that you’ve given yourself a headache—and knowing you, backache
too—over it. Then you can convince yourself that it’s only physical pain
making you bad tempered, and not that you’re anxious. I also know for a fact
that you’ve hardly eaten today, which can’t be helping.”
He didn’t answer, but he was starting to relax a
little under my hands, so I kept talking, running one hand through his hair and
the other in circles over his back.
“That’s what I think; and furthermore, I think I’m
right. So because I love you, and think you’re worth keeping around, and
don’t like seeing you in pain, I’m not going to let this go on. I’m going
to sit here, and keep talking, until you stop worrying about things you can’t
control, and let me help you. Okay? You can lie there and sulk as long as you
like—I’m very patient.” I think I went on like that for a good five
minutes, maybe a bit longer, while he lay and stared at his wrists. As he
unwound, he took deeper breaths, and his eyes filled with tears until he was
weeping into the pillow.
It tore me up to see him like that, but there was not
much I could do, expect keep talking and rubbing, letting him know I wouldn’t
leave as much as soothing him.
Peggy found us like that when she’d put Erin to bed.
Eventually he calmed, and they’re all asleep now—my family—Erin is sucking
her thumb next door, and Hawkeye is resting his head on Peggy’s arm. I should
lie down soon, too, but it’s nice to have this time. It lets me deal with…
with what I’ve been through today.
Having Hawkeye back is good—fun, and wild, and
unpredictable, and often draining, but worth it, just to see him in those (rare,
these days, but becoming more common) moments when he smiles, and relaxes, and
everything is right.
I meant it when I said I loved him. Peggy’s good to
me, and I love her—I won’t manage this without her—but nothing’s quite
like having Hawkeye smile at you, when it reaches those blue eyes and you feel
like you fell into the sky. Oh, Hawkeye, I’ll do whatever it takes to see that
* * *
Thursday evening. Okay, so when I said I’d do anything
for Hawkeye? Apparently I should have added, “unless I think it will lead to
the death of one or more people.” Such as, for example, letting Hawkeye drive.
Now, he’s not the world’s best driver anyway, and tired and had a drink? No
Not with me in the car. And especially not with my
daughter in the car. Or, for that matter, my wife. Or Hawkeye.
Definitely, Hawkeye should not be allowed to drive while
he’s in the car. That’s about the measure of it, really.
He’s not the only one who’s too tired.
I say this now because we’ve spent the better part of
the afternoon arguing about it. We’re doing well, travel-wise—we’ll arrive
midday tomorrow—but Hawkeye’s in a filthy temper (although he’s back in
Erin’s good books. Smuggling candy is silly and childish and the kind of the
thing Hawkeye has a natural talent for. I think maybe Peggy and I should
strip-search him more often), and he’s feeling useless.
There’s not a lot that can be done, really. He won’t
accept that keeping Erin amused is a job, and there’s no way we’re going to
let him drive.
So, he’s gone out, somewhere, alone. Peggy’s asleep,
Erin’s pretending whenever I go to check on her and having some sort of
doll’s tea party the rest of the time—probably involving some of that
smuggled candy, I can’t be bothered to find out—and I’m sitting up,
writing and waiting for Hawkeye to come back, probably both drunk and maudlin.
I am going to wait, because I love him. I keep telling
myself that. It’s true, but just now I need reminding.
I love him because he can make me laugh. Because he’s
a talented surgeon. Because he needs me. Because he stopped me falling apart
when the shells were coming down. Because he came when I asked him to. Because
he helped with so many practical jokes. Because even when he’s bad tempered,
or depressed, or drunk, I’m happier when he’s around that when he’s not.
Yeah, BJ. That’s convincing.
I am not going to listen to the voice at the back of my
head that says he’s more trouble than he’s worth, despite the fact that it
seems to be able to take over my pen. I’m not going to give in, lock the door,
and go to bed, because I love him and I don’t want him to have to spend the
night out there, alone.
You don’t want to have to explain to Peggy why he did,
That’s enough journal writing. I think I’d better go
and find out what Erin’s doing.
* * *
Friday morning, 3:34am. I was right. Hawkeye came in
about fifteen minutes ago, sloshed and weeping. I guess it might be better this
way, but given that I’m fairly sure we’re all going to get smashed again
tomorrow night—or rather, much, much later today—it’s not that great a
They say that most doctors drink themselves to death. I
can see Hawkeye going that way, and in not so long, if he isn’t careful.
There is one advantage, though. Well, maybe even more
than one. He’s got some of the misery he was storing up out of his system,
because drunk, he could talk more easily (hopefully he didn’t say anything
stupid to someone who might track us down—that’s a risk we’ll have to
take); and when he’s quiet tomorrow, it’ll be because he has a hangover. And
I doubt he’ll argue about who drives. Peggy.//
* * *
It took them a little longer than expected to reach
Chicago, partly because they got lost on the way in, but they were in time.
“Radar! Good to see you again!”
Radar accepted Hawkeye’s hug and BJ’s handshake calmly.
“Good to see you again, sirs.”
“Tut, tut, Radar, none of that. We’re not sirs
“Doctors, then,” Radar said, but he was smiling. “Mrs
MacIntyre and a couple of others have volunteered to watch all the children, so
if you want to come this way—Erin, isn’t it?”
Peggy went to get Erin settled, and BJ and Hawkeye went on
in. They were soon surrounded by people—the M*A*S*H 4077th had about two
hundred members at any one time, and over the years nearly nine hundred had
worked there. Only a fraction of them made it, but it was still a lot of people.
Looking around, they
spotted people they knew: Klinger, in a red evening dress, “For old times’
sake. And so that people recognise me!” (his lovely wife, Soon-Lee, was
wearing a spare suit, lent by Radar. They made quite a pair); Charles, dressed
up and pompous as only he could be; and seemingly speaking to everyone, mixing
and introducing and chatting, there was Trapper John MacIntyre.
For a whole half hour, Hawkeye managed to avoid even
looking at Trapper. It wasn’t easy—Trapper was trying hard to talk to
Hawkeye, and he’d been given his nickname for a reason.
In his effort to avoid Trapper, he even talked to Frank.
“Aren’t you back at work yet, Pierce? I’ve been promoted once already.”
“What from, toilet cleaner to floor sweeper?” Frank
sneered, about to move away, but Hawkeye wasn’t going to let him go. “I’ve
got an offer, actually. A guy called Rossi.”
“Dr Jonathan Rossi? We were at med school together.”
“Oh! So you’re the little fink who told him all about
how wonderful I am. That’s interesting.”
“Well, he’s a good surgeon, Pierce. I thought you’d
like him. He’s not as good as I am, of course, but he’s okay.”
That finally drove Hawkeye to try and escape by leaving the
room, and Trapper made his move. In the hallway outside, they were alone
together for the first time in years.
“Hawkeye, what’s wrong?”
“I don’t want to talk about it.” Hawkeye turned his
back on Trapper, looking for a way out, but he’d been skilfully backed into a
“It’s too late, Trap. If you wanted me—and you could
have had me, you know. I was yours, heart and soul—you should have tried
earlier. I’d have forgiven your going home without me, without saying goodbye,
if you’d written, or called, or /something/.”
“Really? Then who sent the note, telling me to leave you
“Note? What note?”
“This one.” Trapper pulled a scrap of paper out of his
pocket, creased and the finger-marked but still legible, or as much as it had
ever been. The handwriting was firm, if a little cramped, and Hawkeye knew it
nearly as well as he knew his own—BJ’s.
We’ve never met, but I think you should know this. You
hurt Hawkeye badly, and if you try to get in touch you’ll only make it worse.
Don’t. No letters, no calls, nothing.
A friend of Hawkeye’s.//
“BJ? Oh, God.”
“Hawkeye, I’m sorry. I should have… ignored it, or
found out who was from, or something. But at the time…”
“It made sense. At the time, it made sense.” The new
voice came from behind Trapper, and he turned to see who the newcomer was. “I
wrote it just after Carlye came back. I thought you couldn’t cope with
anything else, with another lover breaking your heart. I’m sorry, Hawkeye.”
“BJ, how could you so that?” Hawkeye shouted. “How
could you be so—so arrogant, to think you could make that sort of decision for
“Arrogance is one of the things they teach surgeons,
Hawkeye,” BJ replied. “I’m sorry.”
“That’s not enough.”
“Hawkeye? I don’t know what’s going on here, but I
think maybe we should take it somewhere else.”
“Take it somewhere else? Too late, Trapper. Too late, and
not enough.” Hawkeye threw the paper down, and, pushing past Trapper, ran out
the front door.
Both Trapper and BJ moved to go after him, but Peggy got
there first. “I’ll go, gentlemen. You two have done enough damage already
“Peggy?” BJ asked, bewildered, but she’d gone.
* * *
In the glow of the streetlights, Peggy found Hawkeye
sitting on the kerb, weeping. Without speaking, she sat beside him and offered a
clean handkerchief, which he took. She rubbed his back, and waited.
After a while, he was calmer. “Thanks, Peggy.”
“Did you see what happened?”
“I heard enough to understand the basics.”
“Why would he do that?”
“He was trying to protect you. He gets like that with me,
sometimes—a lot, when I was pregnant.”
“I wish he didn’t.”
“Me too, often. But you have to admit, it’s kinda nice.
It’s his way of showing he cares.”
“You think I should forgive him.”
“Yes. You don’t have to, but I like having you around,
and if you won’t talk to him, that’ll get difficult.”
Hawkeye managed a faint smile at that. “You like having
“Same here. And it would never work out with Trapper,
anyway. Between his wife and the other girls he wanted to chase, it wasn’t
exactly a happy relationship when we were together.”
“But you loved him?”
“Yeah. I think I still do, sort of, but it’s less real
than it used to be. Trapper was a great place to hide, but I’m not sure I need
that any more.”
“When you’re ready, we’ll go back in, and talk to
“Trapper first. I want to make BJ wait a while.”
“Okay.” Peggy smiled. “Now?”
“If you’ll come with me.”
* * *
Holding hands, they snuck back in through a side door. The
dancing had begun, and they could stand almost unobserved in a corner, while
Hawkeye beckoned Trapper over, before pulling him outside.
“Hawkeye? I gather you know who wrote the note.”
“Yeah. BJ Hunnicutt. The guy who came to take your
place—the guy who took your place.”
“What do you mean?”
“I fell in love with him. You remember Carlye?”
“The girl who broke your heart. I remember.”
“She came to the camp—army nurse—and broke my heart
again, more or less. BJ was there to pick up the pieces.”
“And having seen what she did to you, he didn’t want it
to happen again. Fair enough—and who’s this?” Trapper indicted Peggy.
“Peggy Hunnicutt, meet Trapper John MacIntyre. Trapper,
this is Peggy, BJ’s wife and my lover.”
“Nice to meet you,” Trapper said, confused but game.
“So—you fell for this BJ, and his wife?”
“That’s right,” Peggy said. “My husband brought an
extra lover home from the war, and I let him stay.”
“Well, whatever works for you. Um… I guess that eases
the next part.”
“Well, Hawk, I was expecting to have to go through a
painful-but-necessary ‘can we be friends but not lovers because my wife might
find out’ speech, but I guess it’s not needed now. Friends, okay?”
Hawkeye looked at Trapper, smiling Trapper who expected him
to be ready to give up years of love-hate and missing, and be ‘just
friends’, because he’d found somebody else. Hawkeye looked into Trapper’s
hazel eyes, and that wasn’t going to work. He tried to run, but he was too
tired, and he’d run enough already, and he found himself sliding down the
wall, curling into a tiny ball of pure misery and darkness.
“I think that’s a ‘no’, Trapper,” Peggy said,
fairly kindly, considering the situation. “Get out.”
He took one last glance at his one-time lover, weeping on
the floor, and at the authoritative woman who had just ordered him to get out,
and decided that she was right. He left, quickly and without a fuss.
Once more, Peggy sat beside Hawkeye and held him as he
wept. “Hush, Hawkeye. We’ll get through this.”
//That’s easy for you to say,// he thought, but he
didn’t have spare energy to say it. //I’m not so sure.
So Trapper’s gone. Really gone. Back to his wife
forever, and he doesn’t want me—just as a friend. No, Trap, it’s all or
nothing. We’ll say our goodbyes, and that’ll be it.
And BJ. BJ loved me, even when I fell apart on him—and
I’ve done that more than once, now, haven’t I? He loved me before I knew I
liked him, let alone knew I loved him. And he loved me a long time before he
knew I loved him.//
While Hawkeye was thinking, wrapped in his ball of pain, BJ
found them. He sat next to Hawkeye, the other side to Peggy, and put his arms
around his lover.
“BJ?” Hawkeye said, when he’d got some spare breath.
Hawkeye lifted his head, blue eyes still dark with tears,
and asked, “Did you really love me, even back then?”
“Yes,” BJ said. “Maybe even from the first moment I
“In the bar in Seoul?”
“When you had me help you test the new rank.
Corporal-captain. Yes, then. And just after that, when we stopped to help those
kids who’s been caught in the cross-fire? Definitely
“So you wrote that note because you loved me?”
“Yes,” BJ said, wondering what the response would be
but knowing that lying wouldn’t help.
Hawkeye thought for a moment, his head tilted as he
considered BJ, and then he smiled. “BJ—and Peggy, you too—answer me one
more question, please.”
“Of course,” Peggy said, and BJ added, “Any time.”
“Where’s my home?”
“California,” they told him, in unison.
“Come on,” he said suddenly, unfolding himself and
pulling them up with him.
“Hawkeye, where are we going?” BJ asked.
“Where do you think? We’re at a party, Beej, we should
be getting drunk, and possibly dancing or saying embarrassing things, not
sitting on the floor and worrying. Come on!”
* * *
The next morning, the sun insisted on dawning again. When
Erin woke and tiptoed into the spare bedroom of the Blake house, it sounded to
Hawkeye like a herd of elephants storming around. He groaned, tried to roll over
one way, bumped into Peggy, rolled the other way, and fell out of bed.
“Hawkeye?” Erin said. “I’m hungry. I want
“Sshh! Okay, okay. We’ll go find breakfast. Let’s not
wake Mommy and Daddy, though.” Erin grinned as he untangled himself from the
bed clothes, and danced out of the room.
Hawkeye pulled on his old red robe and followed her.
Downstairs, they found the dining room nearly empty—though breakfast was laid
and ready—except for Father Mulcahy.
“Good morning, Hawkeye,” he said, brightly. Hawkeye
“Not so loud, please, Father. Erin, what do you want for
“Toast!” she said, too loudly for the comfort of
“Here—I’m sorry, I don’t know your name.”
Erin hid her face, so Hawkeye answered. “Erin, Erin
Hunnicutt. Also known as waker-of-the-dead.”
“Here, Erin. I’ve got plenty of toast—do you want
some?” She looked at him a little suspiciously, but she was hungry enough to
try anything. She held out her hand for the slice, and proceeded to munch away,
The only problem—as far as Hawkeye was concerned—was
that because she was standing on the chair next to the one he was sitting on,
leaning on him, she was chewing right by his ear. “Sit down, Erin, please.”
With a child’s grace, she complied. Hawkeye contemplated
the foodstuffs on offer with the air of one who really didn’t want any, but
knew he ought to.
“Coffee?” Mulcahy asked, and poured Hawkeye a mug
without waiting for an answer—it was easy to predict, when you’d done this
before, even if that time and place was half a world away.
Hawkeye took it. “Thanks, Father.”
“How’s life treating you these days?”
“Happy to be back home?”
“I’m not really home yet. But I think I know where it
“It was a fine party, wasn’t it? Very kind of Trapper
and Mrs Blake to organise it for us.”
Frowning, Hawkeye said, “I thought Radar organised it.”
“Oh, he did a lot of work, it’s true, but it was
Trapper’s idea. He’s the one who convinced her that letting a mass of old
soldiers spend the night in her house wasn’t completely crazy.”
“Trapper’s idea? That there should be a reunion? At
Adam’s Ribs?” Father Mulcahy nodded, not sure why this information had such
an effect on Hawkeye.
Hawkeye gulped the rest of his coffee and stood up.
“Father, can you watch Erin for ten minutes, please?”
Father Mulcahy nodded again. “I expect so.”
* * *
Outside the door, Hawkeye stopped. What was he actually planning to do? He had to talk to Trapper. That was important. It had been Trapper’s idea—Trapper had made this happen—Trapper had wanted to see him again. He had to tell Trapper that it was okay—that it didn’t matter any more—that he would be okay. That he needed Trapper to be a friend.
Could that be right? Could Trapper really have wanted to
see him again?
//Yeah,// he decided, //it could. Trapper
didn’t write only because BJ sent that note. He wanted to see me all along.
But BJ loved me.//
//I don’t know why, I don’t understand, but he did.
BJ loved me, and Trapper wanted to see me again. Even Lyle wants me to go and
stay with him. Peggy, too. She cares.
Even Frank tried to be nice to me.
What did I do to deserve that? Some *very* cruel
Trying to kill myself?
Does it matter? I have to talk to Trapper. Not about
me, or about him, just about—about something. So we’re friends. Now—where
Trapper turned out to be asleep on the couch in Mrs
Blake’s living room. When Hawkeye switched the light on, he woke, blinking
painfully and none too happy about being pulled out of his slumbers.
“What is it?”
“Why did you organise this?”
“Why?” Hawkeye knelt by Trapper. “I need to know.
Trapper shrugged. “I guess… to see everyone again.”
“Yeah. You, Radar, BJ… everyone.”
Hawkeye nodded, standing up again. “Okay.”
He started to leave, but Trapper got up and blocked his
way. “Hawkeye, you’re in a strange mood. What’s going on?”
“Oh, nothing much.”
“I don’t believe that.”
“You don’t have to. Let me out, please, Trap.”
“Suppose I don’t want to.”
“Suppose it’s not really your choice.”
Hawkeye took a step towards Trapper, who moved back until
he was leaning on the closed door. “I think it is, actually, Hawkeye.”
“I think I’m going to hit you.”
Hawkeye made his hand into a fist, and then slowly drew his
arm back. Trapper met his gaze, serious, not smiling or showing off, just
absolutely sure that he would be alright.
“Bastard,” Hawkeye said. Trapper smiled slightly,
thinking he’d won, and Hawkeye swung. He hit Trapper’s chin sideways,
cracking his head back against the door. “I hate you, you know that? I loved
you so fucking much, and then I hated you.” Thud. Another hit, and another.
Trapper just stood there, not looking at Hawkeye but refusing to move.
“I love you, you bastard. You never knew that, did you?
You wouldn’t let me say it, wouldn’t let me show it expect when you chose,
because it was too dangerous.” The blows kept coming, but they were getting
“I’m sorry, Hawkeye,” Trapper said, and caught a
flailing arm. “I’m sorry.”
At the touch and the warm tone in Trapper’s voice, some
old trace of love stirred in Hawkeye and his knees buckled. He fell against
Trapper, still trying, ineffectively, to hit him. Trapper held him for a moment.
“Hawkeye? Can we still be friends?”
Hawkeye thought for a moment and then pulled back just
enough to look into Trapper’s hazel eyes. “Do friends kiss goodbye?”
“We can,” Trapper said. They leant closer
together—but then Hawkeye moved away again.
“Not yet, Trap. Let’s wait until it’s really time to
“When I decide,” Hawkeye said. “Not just yet.” He
pushed Trapper aside, slipping past him and out the door.
Trapper, already worried about when Hawkeye would choose to
say goodbye—and who would be there to witness it—sat down heavily on the
couch, and tried to reassure himself that Hawkeye wouldn’t do anything too
//There are still a lot of holes here. Why did Hawkeye
need Sidney? Why isn’t Sidney here? Okay, so threesome: Hawkeye, this BJ guy,
and BJ’s wife, I can take that; but why would he need Sidney?
Somehow, John MacIntyre, I think you can’t count on
Hawkeye not doing something crazy. You can’t get out of the deal, but you
might lose everything in this.
And you’re talking to yourself. Hawkeye’s not the
only crazy one around here.//
* * *
Peggy woke slowly, her head throbbing with a hangover she
wasn’t accustomed to, and realised that only BJ was with her.
//Well,// she thought, //that’s not entirely a
//On the other hand, it isn’t all good, either.//
She shook BJ’s shoulder. “Love?” she said. “BJ,
love, are you awake?”
“Not now, Hawkeye,” he told the pillow, but when she didn’t stop he reluctantly opened one eye. “Not now, Peggy.”
“I have a headache.”
“So do I. Hawkeye’s not here.”
“Not here not in bed, or not here left the building?”
“I don’t know. Not in bed. And it’s gone eight
o’clock, I’d expected Erin to wake us at least an hour ago.”
“No Hawkeye, no Erin. They’ve probably gone to find
breakfast. May I go back to sleep?”
He looked so pleading that Peggy kissed him gently on the
nose and said, “Okay. But I’m going to go look for them. And maybe some
BJ nodded, and closed his eyes.
* * *
Hawkeye, when she found him, was in the dining room, alone.
Head resting on his arms, he didn’t look up when she came in, and for a moment
she thought he was asleep. Then, still without looking up, he said,
“Coffee’s in the pot.”
“Thanks, Hawkeye,” Peggy said, pouring herself a mug.
“Have you seen Erin this morning?”
“Yeah-- she’s had breakfast, and Lorraine and Louise
and Father Mulcahy have taken her and the other kids out.”
“Park or somewhere. I don’t know. They were all very
Peggy sat down beside Hawkeye, who still hadn’t raised
his head. “Hawkeye, are you alright?”
“I’ve got a hangover.”
“Is that all?”
“I hit Trapper.”
“About forty-five minutes ago.”
“This morning? Why? What happened?”
“It’s a long story.”
“Tell me. Or the table, whichever you prefer.”
Without taking his head off his folded arms, Hawkeye turned
his blue eyes on her. “Trapper organized all this. The reunion. He didn’t
write for however many years, and then he suddenly takes it into his head he
wants to see me again, so he gets all this together.”
“You hit him because he organized this?”
“I hit him because it was a cheap ploy to get me to come
and see him. And because it worked.”
“You hit him because you came to the reunion?”
“He cared. He cared enough to do all this, but not enough
to break the rules. Not enough to say goodbye. Not enough to come and see me.”
Hawkeye looked down at the tablecloth again, and Peggy laid a hand on his
“He did what he could, Hawkeye. Is he okay?”
“He’s fine. Arrogant bastard.”
“Hawkeye, what—and you don’t have to answer
this—what’s the situation between you and Trapper? Current and
“Historically, we were lovers in med school, until Carlye
and Louise can along, we went back to being lovers in Korea, and when he left
the war he left me. Currently, well, you heard. He doesn’t want me as a lover,
I’m not sure I can stand seeing him as just a friend, and I hate that he can
hurt me so much.”
Peggy rubbed her hand in steady patterns over his back and
neck, wishing that she could do more. “Is there anything that you can think of
that might resolve it? Let you move on?”
He laughed, a hollow sound, even when muffled by his
posture. “Oh, I know what to do. I’m just not sure if I can.”
“What can I do to make it easier?”
“Okay, but I’m ready if you need me. Just ask, yeah?”
They sat in
silence, Hawkeye slumped over the table and Peggy keeping him company, until the
children came back, nearly two hours later.
* * *
The next twenty-four hours passed in a whirl of children,
tidying up, and reminiscing.
Andrew Blake played Ravel's Bolero about ten
times, driving everyone nearly crazy (not that, with Hawkeye in the house, it
was exactly a long drive). Becky MacIntyre made paper hats for everyone, and
three for Klinger, two of which had flowers on them. Erin Hunnicutt discovered
the fine art of ‘only asking for something from the kitchen when the cook has
sat down’—between her, the others who were old enough to play it, and her
father, who also found it funny, Lorraine Blake was soon threatening to throw
her knife at anyone who tried it.
Hawkeye even relaxed enough around Trapper to crack the
customary jokes, make the normal puns, and generally behave as if nothing was
But then, Sunday afternoon rolled around, and it was time
to say goodbye.
The party was breaking up anyway: Father Mulcahy had
departed the night before, trying to get back to Philadelphia as soon as
possible. Klinger and Soon-Lee had left on Sunday morning, to get their plane
back to Korea on Monday.
By Sunday afternoon, Louise was itching to go, Trapper was
getting more and more nervous about what Hawkeye would do, and Peggy and BJ were
starting to wonder what on earth was going on.
Lorraine was only wondering how long it would take her to
actually get the house in order again.
Reluctantly, Hawkeye helped to pack. He dragged his heels,
sometimes literally, over ever last thing, until Peggy sent him to sit in the
living room and keep out of the way.
That done, the packing was achieved in half the time. Erin
was put in the car. Louise sat at the wheel, waiting for her husband. Trapper
stood around, nervous. Peggy told BJ to sit in the car with Erin, and went to
“I can’t do it, Peggy. I don’t want to say goodbye to
him. Tell them to go.”
“No, Hawkeye. I’m not going to let you sit in here and
refuse to resolve this. You’re coming outside, and you’ll say goodbye to
“You can’t make me.”
“I’m stronger than you are.”
“Physically, yes. In other ways? No.”
“How do you mean?” Peggy smiled and didn’t reply. “You wouldn’t!” She met his gaze and held it, still smiling. “You probably would, too. And make BJ… okay, okay. I’m going.”
He got up and walked out of the room, slowly but determined. Peggy grinned to herself, and followed him.
* * *
Trapper leaned against the car, glancing round at the other people present and trying not to actually meet their eyes. Hawkeye was going to wait until the very last minute—and then kiss him.
Out here. In front of his daughters, his wife, everyone.
He flicked his gaze to the doorway, dark in the afternoon sunshine, and saw a familiar figure there. Hawkeye.
God, he’d loved Hawkeye once.
Maybe he even still did, a little—but that wasn’t a thought he let himself have.
“Trapper?” Hawkeye called. “Come here for a minute, please.”
Trapper looked at Louise, at her shoulder so he didn’t have to meet her eyes, and murmured, as much for his sake as hers, “I won’t be long.”
Then, drawn by those blue eyes that he knew so well, so close, he went to the doorway. “Hawkeye?”
Hawkeye took him by the arm and drew him inside, round the corner a little so that they were out of sight of all save Peggy. “Goodbye, Trapper John,” he said, and pulled him into a kiss.
Peggy was pleased to note that it was Hawkeye who started
the kiss, and Hawkeye who ended it. He moved away from Trapper, said, “I loved
you,” then ducked out of the doorway into the winter sun.
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